The only one thing that you asked for was for the garbage to be taken out. A little while later you discover your partner failed to do it. When you ask why it didn’t get done, your partner responds “I never heard you ask me”. Funny how that works, how your partner failed to hear the one thing you asked them to do. This “selective hearing” is a common sign that communication is failing.
This “selective hearing” is frequently viewed as a sort of character flaw. Accusing somebody of selective hearing is saying they weren’t listening to you. But selective hearing might actually be related to untreated hearing loss rather than a short attention span.
Selective hearing – what is it?
You’ve probably been accused of selective hearing at some point in your life, even if no one used that particular name. Selective hearing happens when you can clearly hear information that’s useful to you but conveniently miss the part that’s negative. You hear the part about the chocolate cake, but you don’t hear the part about the calories. Things like that.
It’s very common for people to have selective hearing behavior. However, most studies point to men failing to hear their partners more often than women.
It may be tempting to draw some social conclusions from that (and the way that individuals are socialized definitely does play into how this behavior is contextualized). But the other part of the situation might have something to do with hearing health. If your “selective hearing” begins to become more common, it might be a clue that you may have undiagnosed hearing loss.
Hearing loss can create gaps in communication
Undiagnosed hearing loss can certainly make communication a lot harder. That’s probably not that shocking.
But one notable sign of hearing loss is communication issues.
When hearing loss is in those really early phases, there won’t be very many noticeable symptoms. Your tv may get a little louder. You can’t quite hear what your friend is saying when you go out for a drink at your local tavern. It’s probably because the music is so loud, right? And so, besides that, you could go through most of your everyday life without even noticing the volume of the world around you. This allows your hearing to gradually deteriorate. You scarcely notice the issue until you’re at the point where you frequently have trouble hearing conversations.
Your hearing health is concerning your partner
You will notice some of the people close to you are beginning to worry. Yes, selective hearing is a fairly common aggravation (even more irritating when you already feel as if nobody listens to you). But as it turns out more and more often, aggravation might turn to worry.
And your partner may want you to find out what’s going on by having you schedule a hearing test.
Your partner’s worry is significant and it’s essential for you to recognize that. Have an open conversation and consider that they are coming from a place of caring and not just aggravation.
Early hearing loss has a few other signs
You should be aware of some of the other early warning signs of hearing loss if your selective hearing seems to be getting worse. Here are some of those signs:
- Requesting that people talk slower and speak up
- Turning up the volume on your devices
- When people talk it sounds distant or muffled
- Having a hard time distinguishing consonants
- Difficulty hearing in crowds
If you have any of these symptoms, it’s worth calling us and getting a hearing test.
Wear ear protection
Safeguarding your hearing is so essential to preventing hearing loss. If you can’t stay away from overly loud noise, make sure you wear hearing protection, like muffs or plugs. Any feathers that you may have ruffled with your selective hearing can be smoothed over by using hearing aids to communicate more successfully.
In most situations throughout your life, selective hearing is going to be an artifact of a diminishing attention span. But you might want to take it as a sign that it’s time to get a hearing test when people around you start to notice your selective hearing getting worse.